"John...? John!"

John sighed and got up from his cup of tea. Round three. He'd already been in to Sherlock twice tonight. The first he had no idea what Sherlock wanted, except that his legs had been tangled in the bedclothes. He'd been slurring incoherently, and could barely get the word John out.

The second time he'd got up, started ranting about Irene Adler and then collapsed face-first on the floor. John had thrown him back into bed and told him to sleep it off.

That had been twenty minutes ago. He'd been silent for most of those twenty minutes, and John had hoped fondly that that was going to be the end of it until he'd slept off the rest of the ketamine that Irene had given him. Bitch. It was a word John hesitated to use even mentally, but if anyone deserved it, he felt Irene Adler did.

Sighing deeply, he opened the bedroom door. "What's wrong?" he asked patiently.

Sherlock was sitting up again, his elbows on his knees and his palms pressed against his eyes. He took a deep breath.

"Sherlock..."

"Gunna be sick," he blurted out.

If being a doctor - and an alcoholic's brother - had taught John anything, it was to never ignore anyone who claimed they were about to throw up. They'd warned him about a possible tsunami of vomiting when he and Lestrade had had Sherlock at the hospital earlier.

"Okay," he said calmly. "Bucket's right here."

He handed him the bucket he'd placed by the bed just in case of such a scenario; Sherlock, still drug-fogged, looked up at him through his rampant curls. "Not throwing up in'bucket," he slurred, as if John had just instructed him to lick a toilet bowl.

"You can throw up in a bucket until you can walk in a straight line. Told you, Sherlock, you're not wandering around the flat while you're drugged up. Besides, the bucket's a lot cleaner than the toilet - okay, there we go."

Sherlock had just thrown up in the bucket. John left him holding onto it with both hands while he went to the adjoining bathroom and found some tissues. He returned to find Sherlock going through a second round of vomiting.

"Yeah, not pleasant," he said calmly. "Take it easy." He handed him the tissues. When Sherlock hesitated, as if trying to think why on earth he'd need tissues, John wiped his nose and mouth for him. "If you're done, give me that and lie down again," he said. "The last thing you want is to sleep next to a bucket of vomit. I'll bring you some water."

Sherlock relinquished the bucket and lay down obediently enough; John went to the bathroom to take care of it. When he brought the glass of water and the newly washed and disinfected bucket back, he assumed that Sherlock was asleep. As he went quietly for the door-handle, though, Sherlock spoke again.

"John..."

"What is it, Sherlock?"

"Mycroft..."

John frowned and turned to face him. Of all the things he could have anticipated Sherlock was about to say, 'Mycroft' wouldn't have been one of them. "What about him?" he asked. "Do you want me to call him?"

It was nearly one in the morning, but if Sherlock wanted Mycroft, John was more than prepared to call him then and there. Besides, it was Mycroft's fault that Sherlock was in this state in the first place. He could cope with being inconvenienced, even if it was a weeknight. Sherlock had pulled himself upright again.

"I... about what he said..."

"Sherlock, just lie down and calm down, will you?" John went over to the bed and patiently started to disentangle Sherlock's legs from the sheets again. How you've managed to do this three times tonight is completely beyond me. "What he said when?"

"How would I know!"

John paused in honest confusion for a few seconds, thinking back to the last time they'd spoken with Mycroft - the meeting at the palace. How would Sherlock kn- oh. Oh, that. "What about it?"

"It was true."

"What was?"

Sherlock put his palm against his forehead for a few seconds, as if trying to reason this out in his drug-addled brain. "He said... wouldn't know 'f'sex 'larmed me..."

"Yeah, I kind of picked up that he called you a virgin there."

John watched Sherlock cringe - something he knew he wouldn't have done so openly, had he not been as high as a kite on ketamine.

"But then," he continued in upbeat tones, "it wasn't exactly news."

Sherlock still had his head in his hands. He took a deep breath.

"There's no need to be embarrassed about it, Sherlock."

"Says you."

John shrugged. Well, fair enough. It wasn't an issue that had ever really applied to him. He hadn't been a virgin since the age of fifteen... a long time ago. If he was honest, he didn't think he knew any other men Sherlock's age who were virgins - but then, he'd never gone around asking. He sat down on the bed. "Hey, listen," he said, poking Sherlock's shoulder to get his attention. "Do you remember the conversation we had the night I moved in here?"

"About the shooting?"

John smiled. "I meant earlier that night. We went to Angelo's. I asked you if you had a girlfriend... or a boyfriend. You thought I was asking because I was... asking you out. But I said to you that it was all fine."

"You meant it was fine 'f I was gay."

"And it is fine if you're gay. It's also fine if you're a virgin... oh, come on, no. Let's not turn 'virgin' into a dirty word. As long as it's legal, I don't care who you have sex with- or don't have sex with. Okay? Quite frankly, you've got better things to be embarrassed about than that. It's fine. It's all fine." He got up. "If you need to vomit again, the bucket's right there. Drink your water and try to get some sleep, Sherlock. You know we'll have Mycroft here tomorrow... and a lot of explaining to do."

"Mycroft can piss off."

"My thoughts exactly. Goodnight."